Trying To Retain It All

This is a serious test for all of us. Face it–with Stay-At-Home, a killer disease lurking out there, everyone working from home, more Zoom meetings than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime (and that was just this week), misinformation, disinformation and plain old accurate information and having to sort through all that–we are just friggin’ stressed.

I do my best not to focus on the pandemic and let stress rule my life, although my work load has been heavier for the past four weeks than it had been for the past five years. I’ve got some incredible things going on and one day I can share those stories, but for now, I’m concentrating on winning what we’re going through together and making notes of all these unique and historical events along the way.

I’m an information hound, getting up at 4am every morning to begin searching through the Internet for interesting things people would want to talk about on the radio. That’s my job as a writer with Radio Online. So I know what’s going on, believe me.  Then, I shift in to “Day Tim” mode, and concentrate on work and not really pay attention to the breaking news or emerging stories from the day. I give David Muir around 20-minutes at the end of the day to tell me what I missed, borrow a little bit of local news from KOMO TV4, and then detach from current events for around 10 hours.

I’ve found it a healthy balance. Some feel they can’t quit listening to news or talk radio because they might miss something and they want to know everything immediately. Let it go. I’ve seen posts on Facebook that if we got rid of all the news for a couple of months, things would probably get a lot better. Well, yes, for those who don’t catch the bug. The truth, as always, is somewhere in between.

Grab a moment and just marvel at how different the world around us has become in just a couple of months:

Our air has never been cleaner. During my daily exercise walk to the mailbox, it’s downright impressive.

Traffic–which was up to two hours from Everett to Seattle just a couple of months ago–is gone. None. With everyone working from home, you no longer have to plan on what time you were thinking about that trip. Want to zip over to Kirkland at 4 o’clock?  These days, no problem.

Think of all the money you’re saving by not driving or taking the bus to work? Car insurance companies have started offering rebates to keep their clients happy.

Here in Seattle, we’re paying $400 or more for our car license tabs every year, just so we can build a mass transit system we put off for decades and frankly, one I’ll probably never ride. Now, do we really need it?

Companies have been forced to realize that they can still make money and conduct business with people working from home. And with a cautious return to the old ways, there may be a shift in the workplace universe where people just stay at home and companies save millions on renting space, office supplies, desks, etc.

But it’s tough out there. Financially, emotionally and just about every ‘ly’ in our vocabulary. If you’re strong, this is where you can put your talents to work and help those in need of support. Some are struggling now, but one study I read said that by mid-June, a lot of people are going to begin snapping.

All the while, we continue to add pandemic stories to our memory banks. There was the guy we saw at QFC this week, wearing a Darth Vader masks with the voice to match. There are the jokes, that try to defer the scared into a nervous laugh. The one that jumps out for me is:

Q: Can you use coffee filters as toilet paper?

A: Yes, but it may affect the flavor of the coffee.

However, one of the moments that is pressed in my brain as a result of this week came last Saturday morning. My father-in-law had another fall and was rushed to a hospital, where they gave him a total checkup. Thank God all was well and he dodged another falling bullet. But when I picked him up at the hospital (as the official ambassador of healthy people for my family) he told me that while he was there, they didn’t give him any breakfast or lunch. Innocent enough, as they weren’t sure if he was going to need some kind of procedure, so they would need to keep his stomach empty. But where his mind went, as he’s just about to turn 91, is that this was going to be it. He was never going home again. He was scared.

So, all of a sudden, there it was–what someone was honestly thinking, that he would never see his family again and never had a chance to say goodbye.

Those words, his voice, still occupy my brain and are a constant reminder for me to always check in with people. Ask everyone and anyone you chat with how they’re doing. That’s how we’re going to get through this together.

And remember as many of these stories and experiences as that gray matter of yours will allow.

Stay safe.

Tim Hunter

Heapin’ on the Help

Each week we gather here to read the latest thoughts that have oozed out of the gray matter in my skull. We will continue that tradition, not only talking in the third person, but also, this week, with a purpose.

These days are challenging for everyone, on so many levels. Suddenly finding yourself in a home work routine, trying not to leave the house anymore than you have to and when you do actually venture outside, you’re masked and gloved up and practically bathing in hand sanitizer when you return. As you can tell, I’m speaking to the people that are taking this all seriously, and plan to be here when we arrive at the other side of this pandemic.

Every day, I witness how easy it would be to spiral down along with the deluge of the day’s bad news–the latest totals, the newest death count, the next big event that’s been canceled.  I’ve adopted a ‘heads ‘n tails’ approach to following the virus, with a morning check-in of news while I work on my contributions to Radio-Online, and then I get lost in my busy days, wrap it up at some point, watch the 5 o’clock KOMO news and the national ABC newscast that follows, and my curiosity is satisfied. That’s what is going on out there, I know what’s going on right here at home.

Throughout my career, positive attitude has always worked for me and it continues now. I do my morning radio show, keeping it positive–with a combination of silliness, useful information and a musical escape for the masses wanting to get away from the COVID-mania going on.  I even put a video together this weekend to help explain how to listen to KRKO.  I swear, if you’re a day over 40, you’ll love the upbeat music.

So now that you know all the ways there are to listen, I sure hope you’ll give us a try. Put it on in the background while you work at home. I promise, you’ll find it habit forming.

Now, about today’s theme, helping. Well, I’ve already assisted you in how to listen to a great radio station. Days before our state’s Stay at Home order went into effect, I was able to shoot some very fun virtual wine tastings with the women of Goose Ridge Vineyards. I’m very proud of how they came out, and encourage you to visit their YouTube channel to enjoy all 8 of them. By the way, they’re now also making some awesome hand-sanitizer if you’d like to stock up.

At Alexa’s Café in Bothell, Leigh Henderson is doing something very cool. Monday through Friday from 11:30am-1:30pm, she’s putting out jars of soup. As in FREE for the taking. It’s her homemade tomato basil and all she asks is that when all this is over, you pop into the restaurant and say hi sometime.

Up in Arlington, Ryan Berg, the owner of The Shop of Arlington Tire Pros is doing a lot of good up in his community. He already works on several civic projects, he’s buying lunch for his crew every day from one of the local restaurants, he brings in a shower unit each week for the area homeless and since he’s been ruled an essential business, he gets to stay open and work on the local police and fire vehicles, if they need it. How do you top all that?  He’s announced that The Shop of Arlington Tire Pros will provide FREE service to any first-responder who needs work done on their car.  And going even further, he’s including all grocery store workers as part of that crowd. If you know someone in the North Sound, be sure and make them aware of this special offer.

And keep your eyes on the Facebook page of Lyle Ronglien. A very talented musician who has performed all over the Northwest and when he’s not performing, he drives a bus for the Northshore School District.  Well, you do the math–a performer with no place to perform and with the schools shut down, he’s got a whole lot of spare time on his hands. What he has been doing is what a lot of musicians are doing–creating virtual happy hours at a local restaurant. Recently, we watched him perform from The Cottage in Bothell for a couple of hours, which helps promote their ‘to go’ menu, we get to enjoy live music and then he has a tip jar for people to toss a couple of bucks in online. You can also find out where and when he’s going to be performing next at www.lyleronglien.com 

Oh, and one other suggestion. You can do this thing–put together a Zoom meeting with friends or family you haven’t seen in a long time. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve virtually gathered with former co-workers I’ve missed, some great friends I don’t want to lose touch with and enjoyed a couple of family gatherings for a birthday and Easter. It appears to be the way of the future and how we’ll be getting together, so you might as well start having fun with it.

All this to say, there is good going on out there in the chaos. I’d like to sneak in a quick thank you to my sister Terri, who sent us some homemade masks she put together. A quite fashionable look, I must say.

By the way, if you know of some good going on out there that you’d like to share, please drop me a note or respond to this blog. It’s up to us to support each other and focus on the positive, since we’re surrounded by the negative.

Be safe and I’ll dig up some more good by next week.

Tim Hunter

 

Social Distancing Myself

Yep, I’m doing it. For just the length of this blog, I’m going to separate myself from the seriousness of the whole coronavirus pandemic and pass along all the lines I’ve heard and seen over the past couple of weeks.

Oh, this covid-19 is serious stuff and I’m viewing this all as a student of these historic times. Our world has changed forever and all this, with us not knowing how this concludes or even if it concludes.

All that being said, for a couple of minutes, relax and laugh as much as you can with this compilation of nuggets. Some are mine, lots are borrowed from the pages of Facebook:

  • It’s now official. Due to the coronavirus, the beginning of spring is being delayed until September.
  • I mean, you look at the timing of this coronavirus outbreak. I think it’s pretty obvious to me—God likes football
  • My job is to help you avoid the harsh realities of the world and provide a little escape from it all. We’re like Calgon for the ears.
  • People are panicking and already trading sex for food. It’s crazy. Anyway, I got two tacos.
  • Have we tried unplugging 2020, waiting 10 seconds and then plugging it back in.
  • If you bought 30 rolls of toilet paper, you owe three to the church. Tithing is still in effect.
  • I need 25 friends to dress up like zombies and join me in walking around the neighborhood. Can’t let this quarantine go to waste.
  • Are tortillas flushable? Asking for a friend.
  • I honestly hadn’t planned on giving up this much for Lent
  • “Family Feud” has shut down production because of coronavirus. However, there still is no cure for Steve Harvey
  • The NFL has approved a 17-game season. If the season delays go on long enough, so might Major League Baseball.
  • So, the governor closed all the bars. Someone’s having a hard time giving up alcohol for Lent.
  • Thinking about it, the safest time in our recent history was when we moved the clocks ahead an hour. For 60 minutes, nothing happened.
  • A Seattle Starbucks worker was diagnosed with coronavirus. The store became suspicious of him when he spelled a customer’s name right.
  • I feel like I’m in season 5 of my life and the writers are just coming up with ridiculous stuff to keep it interesting.
  • I have a 24-pack of toilet paper I’d like to trade for a 3-bedroom house.
  • President Trump says he hasn’t been tested yet for the coronavirus and, if you think about it, if you were the virus, would you?
  • There’s now talk of extending the April 15th income tax deadline because of the coronavirus. In a related story, at H-and-R Block, H has been asked to stand six feet away from R.
  • In New York City, a conference on the coronavirus has been canceled because of the coronavirus. The announcement was made by the Department of Redundancy Department.
  • Wow, the NHL, the MLS and the NBA have all suspended their seasons. At this rate, pretty soon the only things left are going to Betty White, Keith Richards and the Hallmark Channel.
  • By the way, this hour’s rundown of the coronavirus cancellations is being canceled, due to the coronavirus.
  • ESPN is going to reverse the spelling of their name to NPSE (No Public Sporting Events)
  • The WHO has declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. But all those dogs that were quarantined can now be released, since it’s been proven they can’t carry the disease. Yes, WHO let the dogs out.
  • The hottest drink these days? The Quarantini-its just like a Martini, but you drink it at home all by yourself.
  • Back in my day, if you TP’d a house, you were getting back at someone. Today, you’re doing them a favor.
  • Day four of no sports. Found a woman sitting on my couch. Apparently, she’s my wife. She seems nice.
  • Day five of no sports. Just found out my wife’s favorite color is yellow. Who likes yellow?
  • Coronavirus tip-wear a Dallas Cowboys jersey. You won’t catch anything.
  • Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being called to sit on your couch. You can do this.
  • If everything gets canceled and you’re forced to stay at home and nothing happens-that was the idea!
  • What if they close the grocery stores and we have to hunt for food. I don’t even know where Doritos live.
  • Dr. Oz says that couples should have sex while quarantined. I can hear husbands everywhere saying, “Sorry, honey, but doctor’s orders!”
  • My thought: Soccer, baseball, the NBA, the Kentucky Derby, the Boston Marathon, all canceled or postponed until at least September when football begins. To me, that says that God loves football.
  • The federal government is talking about giving us all $1,000 in stimulus money to spark the economy. Well, it’s not like we’re going to go out and spend it all on toilet paper.
  • Casinos are asking for bailouts from the federal government. Shouldn’t they at least be required to roll 7’s?
  • Bethany Frankel says she is creating coronavirus kits. Oh, goodie. We’re saved!
  • Sorry to say that there is already a long list of scammers at work over this coronavirus. For the full list, please send $100 in unmarked bills to…
  • OK, so you went out and cleaned out the stores of toilet paper, bottled water and enough food to last several months. Now, the good news–I can finally quit bugging you about putting together an earthquake kit.

And a couple of my Top Five Lists:

TOP FIVE THINGS YOU PROBABLY SHOULD NOT DO BECAUSE OF THE CORONAVIRUS

  1. Go to a Face-Touching party
  2. Practice your deep-breathing exercises in a crowd
  3. Keep putting off getting tested because you haven’t studied
  4. While eating out, shake the hand of a different stranger between bites
  5. Accept a challenge to a Cough-Off

TOP FIVE SIGNS YOU’RE GOING A LITTLE STIR-CRAZY AT HOME

  1. Yes, it’s wrong, but you’ve used relatives’ names to create March Illness Brackets
  2. You can’t wait for the next robocall
  3. Named the dust bunny under the fridge, “Herman”
  4. Organized the macaroni by size
  5. You’ve developed a home version of curling, with a robo-vacuum and a Swiffer broom

All this to say, whatever happens, don’t lose your sense of humor. It’s the only thing that will keep us going. Stay home, stay vigilant and let’s all look forward to the day in the near future when we can reduce our social distancing by at least half.

And if you know of someone having a tough time right now that could use a little pickup, please pass this along.

Tim Hunter

Coronavirus: No big deal, right?

The short answer: wrong. Dead wrong.

We’ve had pandemic-type breakouts quite a few times over the last century. Things like Ebola and SARS became household names and while we knew they were bad and killing people, it was “mostly over there somewhere.”

Amazingly, I’ve had some social media friends asking to have someone explain to them why everyone is freaking out about the coronavirus. I’ve had relatives express that it’s all media hype. It’s for you people that I’m writing this.

Thanks to professionals who spend a lot of time to research such things, I’ll turn it over to them. In fact, here’s a breakdown on how it’s NOT just like the flu.

Just a few weeks ago, there was a time when the federal government didn’t want to know that it had come to the U.S.. There were actual cases here, but local medical people weren’t allowed to test. But they did it anyway. Here’s that story.

I understand the tendency to dismiss it all as media hype when it doesn’t immediately affect your world.  When tornadoes hit Nashville last week, it was horrible. But, it didn’t reach me, so I just moved on with my life. It didn’t make it any less terrible for the folks who live there. I also didn’t think the media was making it look worse than it really was.

Consider this coronavirus thing a world-wide tornado. It’s not maybe coming your way, it will.

People are doing all they can to trick themselves into believing, “It’s just like the flu.”  Well, yes, except there is no vaccine. What can a flu do when there is no vaccine? 102 years ago, the Spanish Flu sickened 500-million worldwide, killing upwards of 50-million. Sure, it was only 675,000 Americans, so it really wasn’t that bad.

That was flu humor.

Look, I’m no medical expert, but here’s what I know:

  • A guy that I work with, his home-bound wife tested positive for the virus. The only places she had been in the past week was the emergency room of a hospital. Now she’s in the hospital and he’s self-quarantined for 14 days.
  • A woman that works on the same floor as my wife actually showed up on the news last night, talking about her experience with catching the disease. She told the TV camera that she went to a party and then went home and had a high fever that same night. If so, she would be the only case where that happened. It usually takes 5 days or more to develop symptoms. But all that time you’re wandering around, continuing with your usual routine before showing any symptoms, you’re contagious.
  • I have a friend whose mom was in the Life Care Center in Kirkland. They lost her to the coronavirus last week.
  • They estimate that the virus was in our area for up to six weeks before it was detected. That gave it plenty of time to spread.

The choice is yours. Treat this all as media hype and you’ll soon experience all the adventures we’re having right now. Respect this virus, do all the basics we should have been doing all along, and we’ll get through this.

And a quick reminder of those basics:

  1. Wash your hands. Not ‘run water over them’, but soap and warm water for 20 seconds, then dry them on a clean towel.
  2. Don’t touch your face. This has been the hardest for me. That’s how anything you’ve touched reaches your face.
  3. Keep a distance of 6-feet or more from people.
  4. Use wipes to clean your cell phone once a day. Remember, those hands you pick your cell phone up with have touched everything. And then, you’re putting the phone right up next to your face.
  5. No hugs, handshakes or even fist-bumps for the time being. You’ll live.
  6. Cover your cough. Not with your hand so you can wipe the germs elsewhere. Into your elbow. It can be done.
  7. If you’re stick, stay home. I know that’s a ‘duh’, but ever since employers made sick time equal vacation time, no one wants to waste a day of vacation being sick at home, so they bring it to work. It’s always been wrong, but needs to not be tolerated. Bosses, send ’em home.

Keep up on the latest, read all you can but for the sake of being informed, not to worry. Common sense can really help you out a lot right now. Listen to that inner voice.

Stay safe.

Tim Hunter

Sorry, I Didn’t Catch Your…Bug

We are entering new territory.

The coronavirus, aka Covid-19, is pretty much a part of our conversations at least a couple of times a day.

We knew something was coming. Here in Washington State we were ‘lucky’ enough to have the first detected case in the U.S., the first confirmed fatality and we continue to lead the nation in souls lost to this brand-new virus.

A long-time friend of mine posted just the other day that her mom was the latest victim at that convalescent home in Kirkland, the epicenter of our Northwest outbreak.

Every day, a new count, a new detail. But the drum keeps beating on how doing the basics, the things we should have been doing all along, can help us avoid the virus.

  1. Wash your hands. I mean, REALLY wash your hands, with soap, for at least 20-seconds, front and back. (the best analogy I’ve heard is to pretend you’ve just chopped up Jalapeños and you’re going to put in your contacts next)
  2. Cover your cough. Into the back of your elbow, please.
  3. If you are sick, stay home.
  4. If you insist on going out into the public, wear a mask.
  5. Don’t touch your face without washing your hands or using hand-sanitizer first.

I’m sure there are other things you can do, but those basics are what a civilization that survives needs to be doing. If the coronavirus gets us all into those habits, it could make for easier cold and flu seasons in the future.

But for now, the focus is on the virus named for the beer. (It isn’t, but a recent CNN survey found that 38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona beer “under any circumstances” because of the coronavirus) 

I’ve been oversaturating myself on information and true facts regarding the outbreak and here’s what I know:

  • The elderly (people over 60…crap) are more prone to having a rough go at it with the virus.
  • Those with secondary health issues (the majority of the fatalities in the U.S.) are the most susceptible.
  • For some reason, kids seem more resilient. There have been no pediatric deaths in the U.S.. However, they say because kids seem to be less affected by it, they could be carrying the bug before symptoms show.
  • The majority–80% of the cases of coronavirus–are mild.
  • There’s a lot we don’t know about it. I heard on the news just this morning they think there are two different strains. There is no cure or vaccine.

At this point, America has eagerly morphed into panic mode. John Kay of Steppenwolf was supposed to perform in Everett this Saturday. He canceled because of what he was hearing about the Seattle-area on the news.  I saw one headline the other day that labeled Seattle as a Ghost Town. I wanted to contest that, but just in the last few days, I know of several companies and local governments who have gone into “stay at home” mode. They’re encouraging people to stay at home to help stop the spread. The University of Washington, King County and where my wife works, Nanostring, among them. This morning, traffic was holiday-light, as if people were all out of town on vacation. Instead, they were at home, hoping to avoid catching the bug.

The Northshore School District up north where my kids went decided to just close schools for up to 14 days, this after they had already closed for a couple of other days. Emerald City Comic Con is next week. Vendors are dropping out left and right. The famous South By Southwest gathering in Austin next week is endangered, as some attendees are already announcing they’ll pass. Japan had said earlier that there was absolutely no way they would be moving the Olympics this summer. Now they’re saying they’d be open to delaying it.  The latest James Bond movie was supposed to hit theaters by April. That’s been bumped to November so that this coronavirus outbreak has a chance to settle down.

I can’t believe I spent all those years preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse when I should have been watching the Dustin Hoffman movie, “Outbreak.”  By the way, the folks at Netflix brought it back this month, for those who need to catch up.

 

It’s been bad, but we’re on track for things to get much worse. We saw a couple of panic shopping outbreaks last week, with people stocking up on toilet paper, for God’s sake. Gatherings are being canceled, people are scrapping trips they had planned and looked forward to, because we just don’t know where this is going to go. A treatment or vaccine could be up to a year away. They hope the warmer summer months might help it partially go away but, again, there’s just so much we don’t know.

So, Keith Richards and Betty White, if the time comes where you two are really the last ones left on earth and you are reading this, here’s how it all started a way back in the year 2020. Just in case you don’t remember. If my Wacky Week website is still up, check it out. There are a few coronavirus jokes there that you guys might find funny.

Tim Hunter